This is the second part in the series of blogs that I wrote describing my trip to Moab. The first one was for Arches National Park and the town of Moab.
Canyonlands National Park is huge. Its 5 times as big as Arches National Park and its divided into 3 main districts viz. “Island in the Sky”, “Needles” and “Maze”. Depending on what you enjoy you can choose which district you want to visit. Everybody visits the Island in the Sky. It not only is popular but also closer to Moab compared to the other two.
“Island in the Sky”
Like all the other parks / attractions in the area, Island offers some really beautiful hikes and a good number of campgrounds. The biggest highlight of the district is definitely the Mesa Arch. I had seen a lot of great pictures of the arch and the magnificent view through it. It is a short hike to get there and totally worth it. Here are some pictures of the arch:
My next most favorite attraction in the district is the Grand View Point. The hike here is just amazing and not to be missed. It is along the edge of the canyon that soars above the grand view point. This sheer size of the grand view will make you feel insignificant and put things into perspective.
I sat on the edge of the canyon with my feet dangling outside. A sudden gush of strong wind scared the hell out of me.
Another nice spot in the district is the Shafer Canyon Overlook. Some really nice views out here:
We also visited the “Needles” district. Firstly, if you stay in Moab then this district is over 2 hours away. So, research about this before you go and make sure the 2 hours drive (one way) is worth it. There are a few good attractions here as well. The “Needle” like formations of course, is the big attraction. We did a small hike called “Pothole” hike where we got a good view of the needles.
There is a “dirt drive” here called the “Elephant Hill” that takes you along an unpaved road that ends in a trail head. Though we did hike there, the drive was good and we saw some weird rock formations along the way.
There are a few other interesting hikes and spots as well. Check the nps website for more information.
“Dead Horse Point State Park”
Firstly, why the heck is it called “Dead Horse Point State Park”? It was intriguing to me. It is a story of how cruel, heartless and cold men can be! The story goes like this… Once upon a time not too long ago, there galloped a lot of horses in this region. And because this place was open, and men are not as fast as horses, they couldn’t get a hold of these horses. They devised a plan. They would limit the movement of these horses and force them up a cliff and through a narrow ‘neck’ (whose width allows only for 2 cars now and hundreds of feet high). Once past the neck, these horses couldn’t go anywhere as they were on the edge of the cliff. These men would close the neck with thorny shrubs & such and the horses were trapped with no food or water and a deep cliff with no escape. The cowboys would then cherry pick the healthy horses, bring them out of the “neck” and leave the remaining to die. Thus the name, “Dead Horse Point State Park”.
Though the story is cruel, ironically the place is rather beautiful with great views of the green Colorado river snaking its way around the canyons. There are some nice hikes along the edge of the canyon with various view points.
Dead Horse Point State Park is closer to the “Island in the Sky” part of the Canyonlands NP and both of these can be done together depending on how much you want to explore in both these parks.